Cavs' Second-Half Surge Sinks Vikes
After carrying a 43-27 lead into intermission against Southern Lee, a disastrous third-quarter display by the Union Pines boys’ basketball team changed the entire complexion of Friday’s league contest in Cameron.
The final outcome was an 80-68 loss for the homestanding Vikings at Bob Ward Gymnasium as Union Pines dropped to 0-4 in 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference play and 4-11 on the season.
Southern Lee (4-8, 2-1 CFVC) scored 53 points in the second half by using high-pressure defense, sound transition offense and dominating control of the glass to take the tilt going away.
Trailing by 16 points as they took the court for the second half the Cavaliers offered a resounding answer by opening the third quarter on a 14-3 run.
After exploding for 30 points in the second period, Union Pines committed 12 turnovers in the third quarter and connected from the floor just three times.
Two made free throws at the 1:12 mark of the third period by Southern Lee senior shooting guard Christian Locust gave the Cavs a 50-49 lead. It was the Cavs’ first lead since the 7:11 mark in the second quarter when Southern Lee held a 20-18 edge.
Sixth-man power forward Justin McKinnon closed the quarter with a pair of buckets on the offensive glass for the Cavs who took a 54-51 lead into the final frame.
Viking head coach Nick Boney saw his team erase an early 20-13 first-quarter deficit to build a 16-point lead at the half. In the second quarter Union Pines connected six times from behind the three-point arc and committed just one turnover.
On defense the Vikings took care of the boards to limit Southern Lee’s scoring chances. Union Pines held the Cavs to just two field goals in the frame while forcing six Southern Lee turnovers.
The third quarter was a completely different story as the Vikes’ turnover tally of 12 surpassed their point total for the period by four.
“At halftime I told our guys that Southern Lee was going to come out and pressure us,” said Boney. “When you are up like we were (by 16) you have to expect that. I kept telling our guys we were going to have to be able to handle their pressure and we just couldn’t.
“I called two timeouts (in the third quarter) in an effort to calm them down but our guys just couldn’t get it together and they could not handle the pressure from Southern Lee.”
As the fourth quarter commenced, Union Pines managed to hang around despite having lost all its momentum along with a sizeable lead.
Senior point guard Matthew Maness connected on a three-ball from the left corner to cut the margin to 61-57 at the 5:24 mark.
Sophomore Malik Crawford scored his second straight bucket of the frame on a putback with 3:16 remaining in the ballgame to trim the Cav lead to 65-62. But it would be as close as the Vikes would get.
Southern Lee launched a decisive six-point run from there, featuring four free throws and a basket from starting forward Juwon Jackson, to build a 71-62 advantage at the 2:05 mark.
The Cavaliers then closed things out from the charity stripe, making seven of their final eight attempts along with another bucket down low from Jackson.
Jackson was one of four Cavaliers to score in double digits on the night, tallying a team-high 16 points along with eight rebounds. Joining him in double-figure scoring for the Cavs were McKinnon, who turned in a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, freshman guard Noah Mellette (14) and Locust with 13 points on top of seven rebounds and seven assists.
Maness led the way for Union Pines with 22 points, including six treys, and also doled out six assists. Crawford tallied double-digit points as well with 16, while Packer and senior Dionte Williams each chipped in with seven. Junior Darin Carlyle led Union Pines with eight rebounds.
Union Pines returns to action Tuesday for a nonconference game in Raleigh against the 3-A Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders (6-4) at 7:30 p.m.
Boney is hoping his Viking team will use the loss to the Cavs as a wake-up call.
“On defense we did not pull to the ball and rotate over in the second half like we did in the first half,” Boney said, “and our help defense was simply not there.
“I told the guys in the locker room after this game that the message is simple. We have to play harder and execute for the entire four quarters of a basketball game.”
The Vikes regular-season league campaign is nearing the halfway mark and the squad is still winless in CFVC action. Overall eight league games remain on the regular-season docket for Union Pines. The first of those is scheduled to occur Friday, Jan. 11, on the road against the Western Harnett Eagles in Lillington.
“This is the time to gear down, start executing and doing a lot of things to get better,” Boney said “and maybe make a run in this conference.
“We have enough games left that I think we can still do that and be a factor in this league. We have not even started the second round of conference games, so there is still time and games to play. But we have to get better and we have to cut way down on the turnovers”
Western Harnett is the only non 1-A team the Vikings have defeated this season. That victory for Union Pines over the Eagles came in late December at the Lee County Holiday Classic. This time around it will count as one of two regular-season meetings between the teams.
Southern Lee 20 7 27 26 — 80
Union Pines 13 30 8 17 — 68
Southern Lee: Juwon Jackson 7 2-5 16, Mellette 6 0-0 14, McKinnon 6 2-3 14, Locust 4 4-4 13, C. Wicker 1 6-7 8, Jalen Jackson 1 5-6 7, K. McLeod 3 0-2 6, A. Hewitt 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 19-27 80.
Union Pines: Maness 7 2-2 22, Crawford 5 4-5 16, Packer 3 0-0 7, Williams, 2 3-4 7, J. Thompson 2 0-1 4, Carlyle 2 0-0 4, Quick 1 1-2 3, Davis 1 1-2 3, McCoy 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 11-16 68.
Three-point goals: Southern Lee 3 (Mellette 2, Locust); Union Pines 9 (Maness 6, Crawford 2, Packer).
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